"I want a car for Christmas. I want to wake up Christmas morning and have a car in the driveway with a big red bow on it! All for me! I am a good kid with good grades and I am involved in sports. I deserve it."
This was a little excerpt from the “Teen Speak Out” section of our local Reminder News. I had to read it a few times before the reality of this message sank in. Is this kid for real? My stock answer to such neurosis is usually, “You’ll get nothing and like it.” Put this child behind the soup pots of the local food pantries or shelters. Or how about giving the gift of their time and resources to those less fortunate? Maybe by doing so, an absorbed lesson of appreciation and gratitude for the sake of being together will sink in while material possessions take a back seat.
I began wondering why the Reminder News would publish such garbage. I understand teenagers often have a sense of entitlement, especially today, but this one takes the cake. The meaning of Christmas has seemed to conveniently slip from his/her narrow mindedness and greed. By being a good kid with good grades, involved with sports, what makes them think they deserve it? The sooner this kid realizes we, as human beings, deserve many things but have to struggle, claw and work to get them. Truth: Most teenagers don't wake up on Christmas morning to the driveway of entitlement with a big red bow.
I think the only way of deserving such privilege is if the teenage superhero earned the money him/herself by working part-time to understand the meaning and value of a dollar. Learning and realizing that saving, with a goal, will have its rewards. Goals are also not instant, a valuable lesson with patience. When met or exceeded, a sense of accomplishment and pride always follows. But the fun doesn’t stop there, let’s candidly remind them of the additional realities of insurance premiums for teenage drivers, gas and maintenance. I’m assuming this youngster expects mom and dad to cover those expenses as well, because they deserve it.
Maybe I’m old school, but when I was a teenager, we either drove our parents extra "beater" car or worked (and saved) to buy a used piece of crap. There were no air bags and often no working seat belts. Gas money was divvied between friends. We were happy and grateful to even have something to get us to school, work or practice. There were a few kids that drove new cars, but it was a rarity. Even then, a flashy new car in the high school parking lot was like the uninvited cashew sitting in a dish of peanuts. How’d that get there?
Seeing such printed testimonials of “All for me!” or “I deserve it” is something I’d expect from a 4-year-old in the Lego aisle at Target. I hope this kid will one day understand and appreciate that true gifts are never wrapped.